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Offline Sam Wilson

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sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« on: December 21, 2006, 11:44:08 am »
Sam Wilson’s Reviews

Teen Titans #42
DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Peter Snejbjerg
Cover by: Tony Daniel

Those of you who have been reading our reviews for awhile know I’m a big fan of the George Perez/Marv Wolfman era of the Titans, in fact I would dare say that was their definitive era. Brother Blood, the Judas Contract, Donna Troy, and Nightwing are just a few bits of genius which came out of that amazing era. Since the ‘80’s the Titans have faltered, went away, came back and done some straight crazy things. Recently when Geoff Johns took over as the series main writer the Titans were restored to their former glory with some familiar faces. Cyborg came back as the team’s mentor, and for awhile Starfire was helping him out. Tim Drake is in as Robin, Cassie Sandsmark is Wonder Girl, we even got Raven back (reincarnated as a teenager). Superboy was with the Titans but as we all know died during the “Infinite Crisis” Crossover, which was another benchmark for the team. After “Infinite Crisis” the Titans along with the rest of the DC Universe was turned on their heads, and when we finally saw the team “One Year Later”; Starfire is lost in deep space somewhere, Impulse lost his powers, Beast Boy hooked up with Doom Patrol again, and Raven is back.  The final team’s membership (post “One Year Later”) includes: Cyborg, Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, Kid Devil, Rose Wilson (Ravenger), Mary Martian and Jericho (who was given a corporeal body in the last story arc). 

Issue #42 is a standalone tale featuring the origin of Kid Devil.  Yay.  Well, no.  Turns out he was a sidekick to some movie stuntman who turned into a demon, so head made a deal with the devil to get powers himself but ended up getting burnt and thus his life and current existence is tragic.  Boo hoo, don’t care in three years we will never see or hear from kid devil again.  At least in the next issue we get Deathstroke and Titans East (yay for real), so skip this issue unless you are a completionist, next issue will surely be better. 

Birds of Prey #101
DC Comics
Written by: Gail Simone
Drawn by: Nicola Scott, and Doug Hazlewood,
Cover by: Stephanae Roux

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, let me fill you in on what’s been happening recently in “Birds of Prey”. Our team currently consists of Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Huntress (Helena Bertanelli), Lady Black Hawk (Zinda Blake) and Oracle (Barbara Gordon). Once based out of Gotham, now the ladies are based out of Metropolis, but are mostly mobile in a spiffy Jumbo Jet/Headquarters. Black Canary just got finished with some weird exchange program with Lady Shiva, which she opted out of early and Lady Shiva is now in cahoots with the bad guys again, Barbara Gordon is showing some side effects from being infected by Brainiac but is pretty much her old self. The Huntress and Zinda Blake are still both hot and like to hurt people, all is pretty much well in the world of the Birds. No, the whole Nightwing proposing to Barbara during “Infinite Crisis” hasn’t been dealt with yet, and I don’t know if it ever will be but who cares really, “Birds of Prey”, even though currently lacking in the art department is still one of the best books out there that not enough people are reading.

In the last issue of BOP, Dinah (Black Canary) quit the team to spend more time working on motherhood (she adopted Sin, the little assassin she rescued from Lady Shiva’s ancestoral village) and hanging out with the JLA. Yes, the series pretty much started out as Dinah and Barbara, but Huntress has really come into her own and Lady Blackhawk, well, what’s not to like about her? Anyway, Barbara needs to beef up the ranks, and in issue #100 Kate Spencer (aka Manhunter), Judomaster, Big Barda and Helena (Huntress) did a simple by the number snatch and grab superbly.  Okay, so the birds isn’t so bad w/o Black Canary (sniff), and in issue 101 things move full speed ahead.  Last issue the new birds were breaking an unjustly imprisoned mob daughter out of a Mexican jail so daddy would turn states evidence.  Things were going okay until the Spy Smasher (apparently an old friend of Barbara Gordon’s/Oracle) was tasked with bringing Oracle to justice.  She sicks the US Air Force on the girls, forcing them to crash in an attempt to fake their deaths to throw Spy Smasher off of Oracle’s tail.  Needless to say it doesn’t work, Spy Smasher gives Oracle an ultimatum, Lois Lane shows up (!) and Manhunter kicks all kind of ass.  Oh yeah, this series is moving full speed ahead…

Yes, I’ll miss Dinah, but hey, we got Ed Benes back with her in the JLA so it’s okay. As far as the other birds go, WORD. New regular artist Nicola Scott kicks ass, and damn if the team didn’t come together in all aspects. I’m proud to say I’ve been with the “Birds” since way back in their limited series/one shot days and I’ll stay with them for another 100 issues, easily.

Fantastic Four #541
Marvel Comics
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Drawn by: Mike McKone
Cover by: Adi Granov

For those of you who have been living in a comic vacuum, “Civil War” is tearing up the Marvel Universe right now.  There is Iron Man’s side, the side of the law, the Gov’t wants all superheroes to register with them and be trained by them and in effect become federal agents, the idea being to have one superhero team in every state.  Most believe superhero registration is a direct result of the New Warriors killing a bunch of civilians in Connecticut, others found out it’s much more sinister than that.  Captain America leads the other side, superheroes who don’t want to register and feel they are being wronged, they risk their lives without asking for anything and now they’re being told they’re criminals?  Battle lines are drawn and some heroes choose sides I’d never see them choosing.  The She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow (sniff, my superhero girlfriend), Bishop, all have chosen Tony Stark’s side.  The biggest shocker, for me at least, has to be the break up of the Fantastic Four.  Ben is so mad he chooses no side and splits for foreign soil, and Reed, with his head shoved clear up his ass (which can actually be accomplished with his body) is siding with Tony, even going as far as building a superhero prison in the Negative Zone for the government.  Sue and Johnny join up with Cap, and dare I say it, the Fantastic Four seem no more…

As I was saying earlier, Ben Grimm says, “Fu$# all you-all, I’m outta here” and decides to head abroad, and in FF #541 we found out “abroad” = France.  Needless to say though, Ben’s trip is not without complications.  His assets have been frozen by the US Government because he refuses to register.  When he gets to France all’s he wants to do is get some lunch, but instead the local super heroes enlist him to save Paris from some subterranean monsters.  So what about Reed, Sue and Johnny?  Neither hide nor hair of them in this issue.

I will admit I was expecting another dark and gloomy “Civil War” story.  Instead I got a light hearted, even funny tale which could have been called, “Mr. Grimm Goes to France”.  As you all know, I appreciate some levity and JMS gave us just that in this issue.  If you were expecting a hardcore “Civil War” issue, skip FF this month, but if you want a pleasant, even humorous distraction from all the drama, this book is for you.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2006, 11:45:01 am »
Wktf’s Reviews

This was a much bigger comic buying week than I expected.  Quite a lot of Civil War related titles plus my new favorite series, Blade by Guggenhein and Chaykin.  Seriously, this title’s just tearing it up.  Pick it up if you haven’t already.  It’s really terrific.  My pick of the week is “The Balad of Clint Barton and Wanda Maximoff” in New Avengers.  Outstanding story, but more on that in a bit.

The Spirit #1
DC Comics
Written by: Darwyn Cooke
Drawn by: Darwyn Cooke

This title came out a week ago but I was traveling for business and, so, wasn’t able to review any comics at all last week.  I wanted to get this one in now, though, because, well, it just deserves all the press it can get.

If you didn’t pick up Jeff Loeb and Darwyn Cooke’s Batman/Spirit a few weeks ago you definitely should do that.  It was a single issue slam-bang team up designed to (re-) introduce The Spirit to the comic book reading public by teaming him with one of comics’ most marketable franchises: The Batman.  Great issue that was great fun to read.  The same most certainly can be said for this premier issue as well.  But we should expect no less from Darwyn Cooke, the rising star who brought us Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score and DC: The New Frontier which just was republished in DC’s highly regarded Absolute format.  As with those titles, Cooke’s Spirit is energetic, engaging and absorbing not to mention just plain fun to read.  And, as with Batman: Ego and New Frontier, Cooke proves himself to be a creator who is true and respectful to the source material (Miller’s Batman in the case of the first and DC’s storied history in the latter) while injecting it with the verve and freshness that puts his own mark on it.

While giving a live news broadcast, sexy anchorwoman Ginger Coffee is abducted by masked gunmen just moments before she was, purportedly, about expose the crime cartel of notorious crimelord Amos Wienstock, also known as The Pill.  Of course, it is The Pill who’s had Ginger kidnapped and brought to him, a pale rotund man with a horrendous skin affliction that’s left either warts or sacks of puss all over his body, most especially his face.  When The Pill removes a glove to place his equally disgusting hand on Ginger’s snitch she learns that his touch brings a gruesome, acidy death.  Enter The Spirit, who’s had his hands full battling Weinstock’s men, to rescue Ginger in the nick of time.  But with Ginger our hero finds she may be more trouble than she’s worth!

Cooke’s breezy writing and cartoony style are just perfect for this book.  Eisner’s art seems to flow throughout these pages but it’s still definitely Cooke.  As Eisner did, Cooke gives us an everyman hero in The Spirit, moving through alleyways and sewers, a man of the people and detective crime fighter.  In addition to the gun-firing and jaw-slamming action, there’s plenty of comic relief provided not just by The Spirit and his peculiar charge but by Commissioner Dolan (who actually goes unnamed in this issue but those who read Batman/The Spirit #1 know him!) who storms across these pages, often appearing multiple times in the same panel, fuming at his men.  This issue is a self-contained, single-issue jumping off point and if you haven’t climbed on board yet I suggest you do.  This series promises to be great fun with, as promised on the cover, “action, mystery, adventure.”  And it seems tailor made for Darwin Cooke who has not let comic book fans down yet.  It’s great to have The Spirit back in circulation!  And if you’re interested in a reasonably priced helping of vintage Spirit stories be sure to check out the “Best of The Spirit” trade paperback I reviewed last week to get a sense of what all the fuss is about.

The Lone Ranger #3
Dynamite Entertainment
Written by: Brett Matthews
Drawn by: Sergio Cariello
Cover Art & Art Direction: John Cassaday

It’s been two full months since issue #2 of this series hit the stands.  In my last review I mentioned that issue seemed to be an inflection point for John Reid, the man who’d become The Lone Ranger, but not the turning point.  I believed that would happen in this issue.  Up until now we’ve seen a young and recently university educated John return from the east to join to his father and older brother, both Texas Rangers, in the western frontier.  Despite opportunities afforded him, he wanted nothing more than to join his family as a Ranger.  But tragedy struck as every Ranger, including John’s father and brother, was brutally murdered in an ambush that should have taken John’s life as well.  Dying, and with four bullets in him, John was saved by Tonto who was incredulous at finding the wounded man alive.  Tonto, one very scary and savage man who bears a striking resemblance to John Buscema’s Conan, not only slowly restored John to health but killed all ten assassins who murdered John’s crew, as a favor to John.  Like I said, and as John quickly learned, Tonto is to be respected and feared.  But Julius Bartholomew, known as Black Bart, the man hired to kill the Rangers, is a ruthless killer who seems to know no fear.  Oblivious to Bart’s identity but thirsting for retribution and healthy once more, last issue John Reid discovered amidst the remains of the men Tonto killed a tattered black cloth with two holes torn in it.  Will this issue, in fact, be John’s turning point?

Our story opens on two grave sites.  One is that of John’s mother, dead from illness when he was just a child.  John is wearing a tattered black mask that covers most of his face and he swears vengeance on the man who took his father and brother, a vengeance of which he knows his brother would disapprove.  The other is John’s own grave, dug for him by Tonto so the world would think he, like his fellow Rangers, was dead.  The truly vile Black Bart dug up each grave to give an accounting of the dead to Butch Cavaendish, a public figure but the man to whom Bart answers.  And Bart’s telegraph to Cavendish, sent as buzzards gnawed at the Rangers’ corpses in their now opened graves, states “Five Randers Dead.  All Contractors Dead.  Lone Ranger remains.”

There’s more on the development of Reid and Tonto’s relationship, events that lead to Tonto’s knife leveraged against Reid’s throat.  A silver bullet is molded from Reid’s Ranger badge.  And blood money from the man Reid tracks down lead us to the acquisition of one more famous character from The Lone Ranger mythos.  No, this issue is not the turning point I expected, and that’s actually just as well.  This story is unfolding at its own pace, but the component parts seem to all be turning in the same direction as careful plotting and story development would have them do.  I’m still enjoying this series a lot.  As I reported in my review of issue #2, this is not a hokey, clichéd, corny recreation of a famous but stale old movie and TV serial.  This is a fresh, vibrant story raw with pain and emotion and a budding sense of loyalty that any lover of comics should pick up and read.

New Avengers #26
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Alex Maleev

As we all know, the last several issues of this title have focused on individual heroes and the impact Civil War has had on each (Cap with The Falcon, Cage, Spider-Woman, Sentry and, most recently, Iron Man).  Here Bendis focuses primarily on two heroes who have some history with each other and who’ve not been seen since the last major Marvel event, House of M.  In “Avengers Disassembled” three years ago we learned that Wanda, The Scarlet Witch, had become completely unhinged and single handedly dismantled the team while critically wounding some of it members (The Wasp, She-Hulk, Captain Britain) and causing the deaths of others (namely: Ant-Man, The Vision and, most notably, Hawkeye).  She also murdered Agatha Harkness, the FF’s former nanny and person who had trained Wanda in the art or witchcraft.  In the final pitched battle Dr. Strange joined the fray and, with an invocation, rendered Wanda inert.  That is, until House of M when she remade the universe to give everyone what he or she wanted.  Only it wasn’t a happy outcome.  Clint Barton was alive again but learned he’d been killed and, just before declaring his love for Wanda, drove an arrow into her back, demanding to know why she’d killed him.  Declaring her love for him, Wanda dissolved Clint into nothing, killing him a second time.  And with the utterance of “No more mutants” she then put everything back the way it was, almost.  Dr. Strange was despondent about not having been able to prevent this attack on the world, Wanda was last seen smiling and wandering what looked like an eastern European village in red riding hood garb, and a mysterious intruder skewered Hawkeye’s uniform and the newspaper reporting his death to the battered post-Disassembled walls of Avengers Mansion with his very arrows.  Upon seeing this Captain America smiled while Ms. Marvel, doing her best Jack Skelington, asked “What does it mean?  What does it mean?”  Yeah, Wanda and Clint have some very recent screwed up history together.

And with this issue, set several months ago, Clint finds himself face down in the snow just outside of the destroyed Avengers mansion.  We see him shoot arrows into his uniform and the newspaper and then make his way to see an astonished Wong and Dr. Strange for help in understanding what happened to him, why he’s alive, and how he can find Wanda.  Strange discourages Clint from the latter, fearing he’s seeking revenge even though he claims he’s seeking closure.  But, oddly, Strange is unable to detect Wanda leading him to believe either that she is no longer with us or is no longer in possession of her chaos magic.  But Clint wants his closure, he wants to know why what’s happened to him has happened.  And, so, he goes in search of the witch.  What he finds startles him and leaves him more confused and possibly more lost than before.  Wanda is still alive, but to say she’s no longer what she once was is an understatement.  And what Clint gets for his troubles, instead of his closure, is ironically satisfying given his initial hostility toward her.  I was smiling and shaking my head at the same time as this tale moved to its eventual big moment.  You could see it coming but the continuous tease up until the moment lasted a full seven pages and built up a huge amount of energy and tension along the way.  One of those rare times I wished I were a comic book character, though.

This is a story that starts somewhere at the end of a different story and, while, it finishes within the constraints of a finite number of comic book pages, doesn’t really have an ending.  My God, what does Clint do now and where, if anywhere, does he go?  What could be next for Wanda?  And who is this Aunt Agatha she’s referenced?  For a story with no action to speak of, a helluva lot happens in this one issue to make Clint’s and the reader’s mind just spin.  The Eisner Award winning creative team for their Daredevil work, who also delivered a fantastic Illuminati one-shot several months ago, delivers one of the best stories of their famous partnership.  And all in a single issue.  The dreamlike mood and texture set by Maleev, not to mention he draws a stunningly beautiful and sexy Wanda, as well as the story and dialogue work are all absolutely perfect.  Let the Bendis haters out there continue to hate.  This was one superhero comic story that felt more like literature to me.  And I loved it.

Civil War: War Crimes #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Frank Tieri
Drawn by: Staz Johnson

This was a big week for Iron Man and Captain America confrontations.  Most directly was the Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War #1 but they also meet up in Iron Man #14.  Not to be outdone, this issue also pits these two recent adversaries against each other but not directly on the field of battle.  

Wilson Fisk, the incarcerated ex-Kingpin of Crime who was put in jail by Daredevil, it turns, out has a long standing relationship with Tony Stark.  They used to play chess together and go to the same yacht club where Fisk would hand out Rolexes as holiday gifts.  But now Fisk, along with the rest of the world, knows Stark is Iron Man and, while he’s controlling the criminal activity in Ryker’s Island Maximum Security Prison, has a deal he’d like to propose to Tony Stark.  He’ll use his underworld connections to help track down Captain America and his anti-Registration underground in exchange for...what?  It’s not clear to Stark who comes to his own conclusion that Fisk wants out.  Stark has a history of checkmating Fisk in chess, and does so twice during his prison visits, so he’s pretty sure his board game victories mean he can outmaneuver Fisk off the board as well.  But, as any long time reader of Miller’s or Bendis’ Daredevil knows, The Kingpin sets his own agenda, makes his own plans and maneuvers in ways most don’t anticipate.

Meanwhile, in prison Hammerhead is about to be released and rubs this information in Fisk’s face.  The Civil War is a huge opportunity for the right criminal mastermind to make a killing on the streets and Hammerhead figures he’s the guy to do it.  But what does Fisk’s helping Stark track down Cap and his team have to do with Hammerhead?  Can Stark really trust the Kingpin in prison while the criminals of the Marvel Universe consider how they need to change the way they do business as a result of Civil War?  Just what does Fisk hope to accomplish, and how can he operate with any leverage while in prison?  These are all rhetorical questions, but the point is that while this issue sits on the periphery of the main Civil War conflict and really doesn’t move the main storyline along at all it’s a great one-shot cat and mouse game that proves The Kingpin’s alive and well and a force with which to be reckoned.  Frank Tieri, who won me over with X-Man: Apocalypse v. Dracula, delivers a well thought out one issue mind game.  Oh, right.  And how does Cap fit into this conflict as I suggested in my first paragraph?  That was a nice, unexpected twist as well.


Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2006, 11:45:11 am »
Kdawg’s Reviews

Iron Man/ Captain America: Casualties of War
Marvel Comics
Written by: Christos N. Gage
Illustrated by: Jeremy Haun

Captain America and Iron man have been friends and ever since the Avengers found Captain America in that block of ice and thawed him out.  Many, many times over the years their ideals have led them into conflict with each other, but somehow the friendship always managed to win the day. Recently with Civil War running rampant through the Marvel Universe and Cap and Iron Man, being at the front of the opposing factions, many people have raised the question as to whether or not their history, and their friendship will ever be able to salvage what has come to pass during this time of war. I have been asking myself this question for a while now. The lines have been drawn, I have chosen my side and it isn’t Iron Man’s. I have been wondering how they would make Iron Man the kick ass hero that he should be again, instead of being driven by his own often and selfish motives. Let’s face it, using criminals as a strike force, cloning Thor and then having said clone kill a fellow friend and hero in Bill Foster, and shipping other powered friends to a negative zone gulag, sure doesn’t sound like the Iron Man I remember…

So we have this issue in which Captain America agrees to meet Tony and talk at Avengers Mansion, once home to earth’s mightiest heroes.  I wasn’t sure in what my expectations were for a one-shot issue like this. What I got when I read it though was FANTASTIC insight into Iron Man’s ideology and his stance in the war. I saw many things that helped humanize Iron Man in my eyes again. I saw that underneath all that armor is still a man who doesn’t want to be at odds with one of his oldest friends in Cap. Tony has chosen the registration side because he desperately is trying to keep things from getting as bad as they can with the government.  He admits to Cap that he hates how things are and that he still wants Cap to joining him and bury the hatchet. He confesses to idolizing Cap and saying that he always has. We are given insight into how Tony really sees Cap as an impossible figure to live up to. I won’t go on about Tony, but let’s just say this is the first time since Civil War started that I saw things from Tony’s perspective. That having been said, I still side with Cap who thinks that it’s silly for Tony to idolize him as he is a brilliant man and tactician who is caps equal in his own way.

So all through this back and forth you might be thinking… wow Dawg… that sounds like talking heads and kind of touchy feely and boring.

Tsk tsk true believers, not only are we given this heartfelt issue of two friends talking about their differences throughout their history. We are taken on a trip back and forth through time recounting every pivotal peek and valley in their historic friendship. We see past battles, interventions, happy times and not so happy times.

We are given the obligatory fight between the two in current time two as talking about their differences apparently aren’t going to solve anything currently. It’s a quick fight and doesn’t have any real outcome as the men stop and realize they just needed to blow off a bit of aggression on each other. The two iconic heroes leave the mansion as the came separate and estranged, but there is hope. I can see the glimmer that when all is said and done somehow these two will work through it.

This was a damn fine pick up this week and I am glad I reviewed it. It’s my pick of the week easily as who can deny Cap and Iron Man and seeing truly how much history and friendship we have forgotten about through the years.

New Avengers: Illuminati #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Vrian Michael Bendis & Brian Reed
Illustrated by: Jimmy “young gun” Cheung

What do you get when you bring six of the most pre-eminent heroes in the Marvel Universe together, doing ultra secret black ops? What do you get when these heroes do this out of a need to do the right thing, but come off more like lord and land when no one has asked them to? What do you get when this little band of unlikely partners are so secretive that their wives, their friends, their families, do not know of their existence for 40 years of continuity?

You get the Illuminati.

Iron Man
Reed Richards
Professor X
Black Bolt
Namor
Dr. Strange

Ever since Bendis introduced us to the idea of the Illuminati, I must say I have gotten past how crazy the notion was. I have gotten past how ridiculous the idea was when all of these heroes forming a secret society when they have any number of super powered folks at their disposal to form their own strike forces to take on evil. Who made them God?

Other than Bendis that is?

Now I can look back, let go of the hate and see why. Good intentions coupled with Gargantuan egos…  Like I said, I’ve let go of the hate, and the statement of ego is just a Marvel Universe fact.

These men are Kings, or the most powerful minds, or powerful heroes there are on earth (or the moon) and they feel it is their duty to always ensure the safety of their way of life as well as their entire planet’s.

So we know who they are, but up until now we aren’t quite sure the depth to which they have interjected themselves into epic events that have happened throughout Marvel history… well minus the whole rocketing the Hulk into space “for his own good” thing, that will bite the hard in the ass when he gets back.

Issue one (and it’s incredible art work) take us back to just after the Kree/Skrull war. The skrull king or high priest, or whatever he is, is complaining that the far inferior earthings should not have been able to defeat them and that earth would be his.

A flash of light and in comes the ego-natis, announcing themselves one by one…

There’s a bit of a verbal exchange about how the Illuminatis will tolerate no further invasions and how every single earthling will die under this skrull kings rule.  

Another king steps forward in Black Bolt, opens his mouth and PROCEEDS TO OBLITERATE THE ENTIRE FREAKING SKULL WARSHIP!!!!

Holy Hell Jimmy Cheung…. Nice sequence there bud…The illuminati teleport out just in time to begin a star wars chase scene, get captured, experimented on and then later freed by a weakened yet ass kicking Tony Stark without his Iron Man armor as he first takes out 8 (I counted) skrull warriors…

The Illuminati end up getting out and end up limping back to Earth with nothing really to show for their trouble except an even more pissed off Skrull King who somehow also miraculously survived Black Bolts off the hook attack.

I like Marvel History, so I like this book. I like the little side stories that happen in-between the in-betweens.  I am down for five issues as it will be very interesting to see what else these ego-natis have had their hands in throughout the years…

How could you not at least tell Sue what you were up to Reed to complete and utter DUMB ASS? Do you think she would tell on you?

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2006, 11:45:34 am »
Trade Reviews

Continuing our trade theme this month of our favorite heroes (last week was Spider-Man, the week before The Batman) we give you reviews for three very different but equally stunning Daredevil trades.

KDawg’s Review

Daredevil: Yellow
Marvel Comics
Written by: Jeph Loeb
Illustrated by: Tim Sale

Comics are a great medium for telling stories. They have been a great medium for well over 60 years. In this great medium for telling stories, we are occasionally gifted with storytellers that when paired together, have a certain magic that leaves us affected each time we put their tales down and ponder what we just saw.  Stan and Jack, Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen, Chris Claremont and John Byrne are a few that pop into my head immediately as I write this… oh and let’s not forget the pair in question here either… Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

The art is stylistic and the writing is excellent when individual and on their own, but when they are together, it’s nothing short of magic.  They are best known for their work on Batman: The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but a few years back they did a series of six issue mini-series for Marvel. The first of which was Daredevil: Yellow.

How does this tale stack up compared to the work they are more well known for? Let’s just say they never ever disappoint this comic reviewer.

We start this story out with a contemplative Matt Murdock A.K.A Daredevil leaping across the roof tops in that trademark Tim Sale style.  Matt is talking to himself as he often does when something is weighing on him. In this particular case we see a shaken Matt still lamenting over the loss of his beloved Karen Page at the hands of an arch foe Bullseye.

Matt can’t seem to shake the loss of Karen and the sting is still too close to his heart, and so the narrative becomes a letter to Karen that Foggy (Matt’s oldest friend) suggested he write to try and say goodbye. Matt admits to himself and Karen in the letter, that he doesn’t know where to start, so he’d just go back to the beginning. The beginning being before Karen, before Nelson & Murdock: Attorneys at law, and before Daredevil.

This beginning is when the one person that Matt loved the most was still alive… his father… Battling Jack Murdock.

What a brilliant way to back track to the beginning and retell an origin. Loeb and Sale make something that has been done to death, somehow fresh and smooth as silk. Not only that but we are given constant muted color washes with subtle touches of yellow, black and red on every page (Daredevil: Yellow… remember?)

We have Matt and Foggy in college and hanging out with Matt’s dad as he makes his fateful and final run at being a boxing champion of the world. Jack Murdock was in with some bad folks that were fixing his fights. Jack didn’t care, as he just wanted a shot at the title. Shot at the title, he would never get though as his last fight before the title fight, he was supposed to take a dive and lose. Matt reflects that this was just not his father’s style to Karen in his letter.

Jack does win the fight, to the chagrin of the mobster who had been fixing his fights. Jack knows that this would be his last fight and perhaps his last night on earth and hands Matt his robe of yellow, red and black. This exchange is the last one that father and son would ever have…

A son’s despair and grief and rage, drives a sewing binge and Daredevil is born. Donning his father’s colours, Matt becomes Daredevil and seeks revenge. He instead gets justice as the man responsible for his father’s death is taken to jail.

It’s a great beginning to the origin of Daredevil, all the while diving into the very core of who Matt Murdock is. Matt reflects so much into his letter to Karen and you can’t help but be a little moved by how this story is handled. I like to think that the comics that leave you thinking a bit are the ones that end up being classic.

This is just the tip of the iceberg however, as we are launched into the law careers of Nelson and Murdock.  They have their office and they are searching (Mostly Foggy) for a secretary.  We all know who comes calling and eventually fills that slot.  Matt’s beloved Karen Page. We also get to see Matt and Foggy’s very first clients. This is none other that the famous Fantastic Four as Ben Grimm comes crashing through the window looking for these “Nelson & Murdock shysters”.

We get to see that it was Foggy who initially took a shining to Karen, but she seems to have eyes for Matt and Matt has “eyes” for her… Initially this is a problem for Foggy but eventually he decides that he can’t fight fate nor deny his friendship with Matt and lets his feelings for Karen fade.

This story is all about Matt coming in to his own as a person and as a superhero, all the while fondly remembering how he and Karen Page came to meet and fall in love, while dealing with trying to bring his father’s murderer to justice. We are given more depth and emotion in this tale than you could ever hope for in a comic series. This is one of the things I have always liked most about Daredevil. As much as he tries to hide it and act tough, he wears his heart on his sleeve.

Daredevil: Yellow is the best Daredevil origin there is.  It is refreshing, cinematic, graphically superior in its flow and design, and it finds a way to kick ass while pulling on the heartstrings of us and our beloved fictional comic book hero.  To me, that’s what I was talking about earlier… to me, that is the magic that’s given to us every now and then, when two collaborators come together and tell their story in this great medium. When you turn the last page and close the book, you can’t help but think about what it is you just read and think.

Wktf’s Review

Daredevil: Fall From Grace
Marvel Comics
Written by: Dan Chicester
Drawn by: Scott McDaniel

This trade compiles one of the more famous Daredevil story lines, from Daredevil #319-325.  It’s pretty well known for a number of reasons.  One is the list of guest stars which include the likes of Silver Sable, Nick Fury, Venom and Morbius, not to mention other Marvel notables like J. Jonah Jameson and the Kingpin, plus a cadre of Daredevil’s own pantheon of supporting characters such as Stone, Ben Urich, Foggy, Karen, The Hand and Elektra.  Yes, Elektra.  But why do I single her out?  Why was the presence of Elektra a big deal back then?  Well, these issues were published in 1993 and Elektra hadn’t been seen since Daredevil tried to resurrect her corpse in Frank Miller’s famous run.  In fact, at that time Elektra’s final fate had been a bit of a mystery for the better part of 10 years.  Had the images of her scaling a snowy mountain in 1983’s DD # 190 been metaphorical or mystical in some way, or had Matt truly succeeded in cleansing her soul of pain and anger and brought her back from the dead with nothing more than his will and the power of his love?  “Fall From Grace” was Elektra’s coming out party and marked her shocking definite return to the Marvel Universe.

Why else is this series notable?  Two other main reasons.  One was Scott McDaniel’s stunning and powerful art.  McDaniel later built his rep at DC on Batman, Superman and, most especially, on Nightwing.  But here on Daredevil he was cutting his teeth.  Sure, he was pirating some of Frank Miller’s style as it relates to facial features, mainly women’s lips, and the use of light and shadow.  But he was also giving us glimpses of the art that later would come in his career.  The second reason is that, three issues into this storyline, Matt Murdock premiered his stylin’ grey costume with red trim and armor on his shoulders and legs.  It was short lived but remains a fan favorite.

“Fall From Grace” centers upon a super powerful virus called “About Face” which was conceived and created by the Pentagon and then purposely lost in 1963 by Department of Defense Agent Eddie Passim.  This virus allowed the person infected with it to alter his/her body in any way desired.  But why did Eddie, unlike the other agents entrusted to destroy their samples of the virus, not do so with his?  Eddie is a telepath who fell in love with a woman, another telepath, whom a General named Henry Kenkoy had brutally murdered and dissected for component parts to this virus.  Eddie hoped the General would come looking for the virus some day and that he could then take his revenge for his lover’s death, a death his telepathy caused him to experience even as his lover was painfully dying.  But General Kenkoy was later disgrace by Fury, discharged and had become a member of the Snakeroot, and division of the Hand which was after the remaining, missing sample of the virus.  And they weren’t the only ones, not by a long shot.  All the players after the virus make for some explosive battles between and amongst thems and with Daredevil who’s placed himself squarely in the midst of all of it, seeking to prevent this super virus from falling into evil hands.

The Hand wants the virus to create a legion of addicted heroin users whose bodies will never succumb to the drug and, thus, produce a growing legion of addicted customers.  The Snakeroot want it to graft Elektra’s malignant spirit, stolen from a SHIELD cyborg names James Garrett who used to run with the wild ninja and in whom Elektra implanted this evil part of herself (Why? I have no idea), to a resuscitated female corpse named Erynys.  Venom wants the virus to cure him of his weakness to fire and sonics, just as Morbius wants it to end his vampiric blood lust.  Then there’s another SHIELD cyborg named Siege, who’s sent by Fury to recapture Garrett, who may want the virus to restore his humanity.  And then we have yet another player, a demon named Hellspawn, created in the Louisiana Bayou from voodoo magic, who wants the virus to free him from his servitude to human masters.  And this demon bears a striking, though ghastly, resemblance to a certain Man Without Fear.

As you probably can tell, this is a pretty dense trade.  As if all of this weren’t enough there are a couple of extra subplots involving a hostile takeover of the Daily Bugle and the theft of Ben Urich’s files revealing Matt Murdock to be Daredevil.  And then there’s the matter of Eddie Passin (see above) whom DD’s frantically trying to protect against all these super powered menaces who want to get their hands on him to get “About Face” and, oh yeah, that other matter involving Elektra, having previously been cleansed and purified by Matt and now battling to prevent her evil persona, in the form of Erynys, from being unleashed upon the world.  Then there’s Matt’s stunned reaction to finding Elektra alive and what this might means to his relationship with Karen.  AND, through all these interweaving characters and plotlines, Daredevil is desperately battling in his own wild way any and every adversary who comes at him, sometimes many at the same time!

Despite all the different plot twists and turns this thing really does come together pretty well.  Chichester, who also wrote “The Fall of the Kingpin” story arc, must have taken great pains to plot all this out, but he’s put together a story that’s a helluva ride.  And Scott McDaniels, one of my favorite second tier comic book artists, really pulls out all the stops to deliver some fantastic and frenetic art.  This book originally retailed for $19.95 but I believe is long out of print.  You should be able to find it eventually on eBay (I did a few years back) or some other online store.  “Fall From Grace” isn’t Frank Miller’s Daredevil but it captures a truly notable piece of Daredevil’s rich history and is an important addition to any fan’s Daredevil trade collection.  And it’s a fun read, too!

Sam Wilson’s Review

Elektra Lives Again
Marvel/Epic Comics
Written by: Frank Miller
Drawn by: Frank Miller
Colored by: Lynn Varley

Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s is quite possibly one of the most immortal runs in comics ever (right up there with Walt Simonson on Thor and John Byrne on the FF).  Handling both the art and writing on the title, Miller turned it from bi-monthly garbage to, well, genius.  A genre unto itself, comic book noir if you will.  Frank Miller revisited Daredevil only four more times since his initial run, in the also immortal “Born Again” story, with JR Jr in the “Man Without Fear” epic, “Blood and War”, a OGN featuring DD and Elektra and then the often forgotten, yet stunningly beautiful “Elektra Lives Again”, originally released as a HC OGN in 1990 (and damn, $25 was a lot when I was 14, I remember…) “Elektra Lives Again” didn’t fall into any particular continuity, and Miller himself even said it was probably a “what if” type tale, but wow was it something special back then, and rereading it for the first time in at least a decade, I would say it is still something special right now.

To properly frame this story one has to think on Elektra circa 1990, she was still dead.  She died in “Daredevil” issue 181, killed by Bullseye dying in a pool of blood in Matt Murdock’s arm.  In “Daredevil” issue 190 Stick and some members of his ninja clan were fighting the hand, who were set on raising from the dead one of their greatest warriors, Elektra.  Of course our boy DD was mixed up in this, and during all this madness Stick (DD’s old master and a ninja dude with old ties to Elektra as well) explained to Matt, “death and life is really just the transfer of energy”.   Anyway, rather than wait for the hand to resurrect Elektra, DD tried to do it himself but failed, Stick discovered this and realized that DD didn’t necessarily fail, his efforts to transfer energy somehow “purified” Elektra, so Stick and one of his Ninja’s engaged in some ninja mojo and pow, Elektra’s body disappears, only to be seen at the end of the issue; Elektra dressed all in white scaling a wintry cliff, finally reaching the top.  She was never heard from again, well, until “Elektra Lives Again”.

“Elektra Lives Again” opens with a mourning, no, an obsessed Matt Murdock still deeply affected by the loss of Elektra.  He has crazy dreams about her fighting the ghosts of all the people she killed and he is slowly driving himself mad, so he goes to confessional in hopes to cleanse his soul and get some rest.  That doesn’t happen and he soon finds himself in the morgue; apparently Bullseye was killed and Matt goes to identify the body, instead what he gets is an all out ninja battle and more heartbreak and anguish.

At the time, “Elektra Lives Again”, while always billed as being not in continuity, was a fitting coda to the Elektra saga.  Of course that has all been done away with now, but once upon a time things were simpler and stories meant more.  Frank Miller is at the top of his game with this book, the style being something in between his work on the “Dark Knight” and “300”.   Fans of Miller who have overlooked this OGN may want to give it a second chance, it is readily available in both HC and tpb form, I highly recommend this book.

Offline David Yardin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2006, 06:46:09 pm »
New regular artist Nicola Scott kicks ass, and damn if the team didn’t come together in all aspects.

Yeah Nicola is one artist to watch, and she's Aussie too!

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2006, 08:21:42 pm »
New regular artist Nicola Scott kicks ass, and damn if the team didn’t come together in all aspects.

Yeah Nicola is one artist to watch, and she's Aussie too!

Love that you're still hanging out on the board, David! 

J.R. LeMar

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2006, 09:02:03 pm »
Yeah Nicola is one artist to watch, and she's Aussie too!

And she's hot!

I've "known" her for a few years now, on a couple of other message boards. Trust me, if she
ever gets put on the Wonder Woman book, which is her dream job (I wish I had a copy of the
pc of her in her WW costume), she'll rocket that book to the top 25 @ least.

Offline David Yardin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2006, 09:29:11 pm »
Love that you're still hanging out on the board, David! 

I'll always make time to kick it on the HEF. ;)

Yeah Nicola is one artist to watch, and she's Aussie too!

And she's hot!

I've "known" her for a few years now, on a couple of other message boards. Trust me, if she
ever gets put on the Wonder Woman book, which is her dream job (I wish I had a copy of the
pc of her in her WW costume), she'll rocket that book to the top 25 @ least.

Dude... I think she's taken.

Yeah Nicola's feenin' for that WW gig... she'll get there soon at the rate she's going.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2006, 09:47:51 pm »
Love that you're still hanging out on the board, David! 

I'll always make time to kick it on the HEF. ;)




Quote

I appreciate your contributions to BP, and hope we will work together again. 

But most importantly, we ALL appreciate your contributions to the Hudlin 100.

Offline David Yardin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2006, 01:30:36 am »
Man... I've been slacking on the 100, will have to rectify that... Most definitely want to collaborate again too.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2006, 04:58:28 am »
New regular artist Nicola Scott kicks ass, and damn if the team didn’t come together in all aspects.

Yeah Nicola is one artist to watch, and she's Aussie too!

Word, Australia kicks a#$.  8)  She would be great on WW, but I hope she stays on Birds for awhile.  I think she's fantastic and definately a gem in hiding. 

Good to see you do David, what do you have in the pipeline?  (PS, more pics of Rhoda Mitchell...  ;D  )

Offline David Yardin

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2006, 07:29:23 am »
My next book out (next week actually) is What If? X-Men Deadly Genesis , but the Marvel project I'm working on right now I can't spill just yet.

Offline Mastrmynd

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2006, 08:48:29 am »
DY, my Aquarian brother...where you been hiding?
:D

and becuz you're cool people, i think i'll pick up your Deadly Genesis what if book.

Oh yeah... ARVELL makes a great name for a character.

im just sayin'...

i've only seen it once (becuz of a google search)...and i still dont know anything about that character.


Listen to my entertaining radio show, "The Takeover: Top 20 Countdown" at www.top20takeover.VVCRadio.com.

Right on to the real and death to the fakers!  Peace out!

Offline Open palm

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2006, 09:31:10 pm »
So you're writing the next "What If?" Then I know it'll be good. I'm expecting something more than "I Was an Missing Summers Brother".
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/20/06.
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2006, 12:39:56 pm »
Hey,
Wassup everybody. Merry Christmas.  Whoa, David Yardin kickin it on the board too. Cool beans. Anyway, I have 17 picks this week. Marvel did a really good job of dominating the top 10 this week with Civil War titles.
17) Ion#9- I feel like over all this series is/will been good, but it seems like from time to time, the writer Ron Marz and by extension, the title character gets distracted with all these other little stories along the way to the big story. I'm just trying to figure out how all these different events tie into one another.
16) Catwoman#62- Ok, this is a title I don't normally pick up, but that's not saying that anything is wrong with it, because in actuality Cat-woman has always been a good read. If you have ever been a fan of the series or even a casual fan such as myself then you need to pick up this issue, because this is a very important issue which clears up a lot of mysteries like who is the father of Catwoman's baby and no it's not Bruce Wayne. Read it and see.
15) Criminal#3- I really loved this issue, so I'm not feeling this issue where everything kind of just slows down, but hey that's the nature of Noir storytelling. If you are into crime/pulp fiction, hard boiled tails you will probably dig this title but I'm starting to wonder whether or not it will be better for me to read it in the trade paperback format.
14) Fables#56- Yet, another interesting issue of Fables. The only reason that it didn't rank as high as normal, is because at this time I just wasn't too interested in learning whether or not Santa Claus was a fable. However, I'm always happy to see Bigby and Snow White together and happy. I wonder how long that's going to last. Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a nice moment with Ambrose aka Flycatcher that's very poignant especially if you read 1001 nights of Snow.
13) Checkmate#9- Yo, on the real, this is a dope espionage book and I'm really starting to feel like this title really does represent a chessboard where all the DCU is the board. I also like how Mr. Terrific has settled in as the new White King, but I'm curious about his choice of the Thinker as his Bishop.  That might just end ugly.
12) 52 Week 33- This actually, was a good holiday issue. I like how ruthless Lex Luthor is when it comes to trying to get powers, I like how Nightwing has befriended the new Bat-woman although personally I don't think she's going to live that long. However, the story that really has my attention is the one with Black Adam; because I gotta a feeling the rest of the world ain't going to let him stay happy.
11) Civil War: Frontline#9- Wow, Marvel has gotten a lot of mileage out of this miniseries. I'm really surprised by the way Sally Floyd's interview with Captain America.  It was very intellectual how she put him in his place but she really didn't disagree with his position. Of course, the Speedball story was dope as always. As for the third story about the Atlanteans, I'm not sure but somehow I think that's going to connect in a bigger way to the main Civil War story.
10) Secret Six#6- That Vandal Savage is a muthaf*cka. Of course the star of this issue has to be the Mad Hatter. I never realized how nuts he was until this issue. Of course, the whole team is dysfunctional, but that's endearing in a weird way.  I think DC should have made these guys the new Suicide Squad, but I'm still going to wait and see what happens.
9) John Woos 7 Brothers#3- Huh, I wonder how long this story is going to last, At first, I thought it was going to be an ongoing, but now I get the vibe that it is going to be a mini-series. I guess that would make sense since this an idea John Woo had for a movie. The ending was surprise, but I have to admit it was tight.
8. Ms. Marvel#10- I read somewhere, probably in Wizard or something that Marvel was trying to build Ms. Marvel to be their version of Wonder Woman, and I have to admit that I'm impressed with their efforts. For the last couple of issues, there have been some great battles in this title and this issue was no exception with Ms. Marvel battling a parallel earth version of herself and Rogue as well, and I have to say it was pyrrhic victory at best.
7) Teen Titans#42- Every time I get ready to quit this title, Geoff Johns does something to pull me back in. This time it was the origin of Kid Devil, and I gotta admit it was tight. If you were ever a fan of the origin stories that Geoff Johns used to do when he was writing the Flash, then this is the issue of Titans for you.
6) Iron Man#14-Honestly, I'm starting to see things from Tony Stark's position when it comes to Superhuman Registration. It actually makes sense, even if the way he went about it may have been f*cked up. Also, he comes across a lot more human in this story than he has in a lot of civil war stories. I'm digging how they keep tying extremis into ongoing Iron Man stories as well. Oh, a long time Iron Man character dies in this issue as well.
5) Fantastic Four#541- I'm waiting for JMS to get off FF and for Dwayne McDuffie to start, (Yes, that's right the Dwayne McDuffie) however, I have to admit that this issue didn't suck; it was probably the lighthearted touch that this title has needed for a while now. Also, I like how much sense the story made with Ben having difficulty getting out of the country with his money. That's the United States Government I know, always hassling a brother.
4) Civil War: War Crimes#1- Yes, it was pricey, but it was better than I thought, hell, it ended a whole lot better than I thought it would.  This is probably one of the best Frank Tieri stories I've read in a while.  If you like the Kingpin, and want to see what he has been up to in wake of Civil War and recent events in Daredevil then check this out.
3) The New Avengers#26- Wow, the reunification of Bendis and Maleev for the return of Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch. Nuff said. I have to admit although nothing really happened, well I'm not really sure I can even say that this was probably one of the most interesting one shot stories I've read this year. I mean I felt bad for Hawkeye, especially in the end when he seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. As for Wanda, what can I say about her...if she were real this chick would scare me. Oh, the art was beautiful as well.
2) Civil War Casualties of War- I continue to grow more and more impressed with the writing Christos Gage. Seriously, this was an excellent piece of work where he blended together several old stories into a one shot that's part of a larger crossover. Best of all, he really made me with connect with both Captain America and Iron Man, their belief in their relative position on the Superhuman Registration act and how it has impacted their friendship. If I had to fault this comic for one thing, then maybe it's because I thought Captain America should have been more pissed off after the @ss whupping Iron Man gave him in that battle in Civil War#4.
1) The New Avengers: Illuminati#1- Arrogant white men and how their plans go awry should have been the name of this story, but I gotta admit that Bendis held it down on this one. I mean it was thrilling to see what the Illuminati attempted to do by invading Skrull space, but it was more interesting to see them fail, and barely escape by the skin of their teeth. I can't wait to see what other f*ck-ups they've made over the years.